Whose hands even are these? Are they connected to the body in the red shirt, or are they part of an independent being? Perhaps it’s the gloves that give the hands a slightly sinister air: why can’t their fingers be exposed?
Ellie MacGarry actually picked up a pair of turquoise rubber gloves at an exhibition where visitors were invited to handle delicate objects, and they subconsciously found their way into this piece. However, Gloves (Green) isn’t the first time hands have featured in MacGarry’s artistic output. She explains: “This work follows on from other works of mine in which the hand enters the frame of the body. Disconnected from the torso they lie upon, it is unclear who they belong to.”
In previous paintings, MacGarry has depicted skin-to-skin contact as a bare hand slips into a gape in the fabric of a garment, part of the artist’s ongoing exploration of physical touch and intimacy. However, this time, the hands are covered. Protected, perhaps. “This shade of green made me think of clinical settings,” MacGarry says, “and the association of disposable gloves with hygiene or care.”
“The hand enters the frame of the body. Disconnected from the torso they lie upon, it is unclear who they belong to”
The self-conscious body is a key element of the British artist’s work. She examines our desire to be seen, but also hidden, focusing on fleeting moments where opportunities for touch or concealment arise. “Within my practice,” she explains, “I consider bodily experiences, and more recently I have been exploring boundaries and how we might permeate them. I often focus on moments of covering and uncovering, so here that functions in two ways: the red shirt gapes open at regular intervals, revealing bare skin below, while the hands are concealed and gloved.”
MacGarry graduated from the University of Leeds and the Slade School of Fine Art. She is based in London and in 2021 she exhibited twice at the Steve Turner gallery space in Los Angeles. During the next few months, she will be exhibiting in Nullepart, a small project space in the south of France. This print of Gloves (Green) is available in a limited edition of 50.